When was the last time you visited a shopping store to buy something matching your taste? You must have thought such an experience would not have been possible at an online store. When you are at a retail store buying clothes, store representative shows you all the great collections one by one. Within a minute from your expressions, he/she understands your taste and narrows down his/her search to find for you something that suits your needs best. With advices and compliments, the store representative encourages you to make the purchase creating a win-win situation.
This was not possible on online stores until now. Today personalization is very new in e-commerce. Amazon was one of the initial pioneers in this domain, while a majority of other ecommerce businesses are still following suit. Indian origin expert, Saurabh Nangia (alumnus of UIUC & IIT-Guwahati) had steered a similar project to take personalization to new levels while he was at Amazon.
Saurabh’s intense hard work and intelligently made calculations came right in line with expectations as his new tool brought an appreciable difference to the whole user experience and conversion rate. At the success of developing an excellent personalization solution, Saurabh had understood that the tool could provide ample business opportunities, especially in emerging markets. He convinced his friend Rahul Singh to embark on a journey of adventure and entrepreneurship with him.
This cloud based personalization platform creates real time suggestions based on customer’s browsing and shopping habits along with the insights from the profiles of similar users and comparable taste. These suggestions help customers find similar items from the catalogue, new releases, what others are buying and popular combinations of products.
Today TargetingMantra is providing a number of business solutions to various e-commerce websites that includes Similarities, Recommendation Widgets and Targeting Tools, everything from personalization to customization to analytics.
1. What inspired you to come up with this idea?
With the rate at which amount of data available online was multiplying, I identified the need for something that could curate this data for users. Currently, there is over 3ZB (1021 bytes) data created online every year. Therefore a good personalization and targeting solution is needed for any online business that wants to deliver a good customer experience. The amount of resources (both time and money) that went into building an in-house world-class personalization solution were not feasible for SMEs. This gap is further accentuated by the dearth of experts in the field of big data and personalization, across the world. There was a business opportunity out here. These companies were spending a lot on customer acquisition, but were unable to retain customers, increase customer loyalty and increase conversion rates. Therefore, it was clear that only if they could get a personalization service at a reasonable price they will gladly use the service. We therefore came up with a SaaS based personalization solution.
In this process, I also realized that people do not have access to important metrics about their business for making strategic decisions. As we were already profiling users, we therefore also started providing detailed insightful analytics to businesses.
2. How did you transform your idea into a startup venture? What were the things in your checklist before working on it full time?
There are three important things that one must look into before working on any idea full time. First is validating the feasibility of your idea. Having worked in machine learning for over 5 years, I knew that it is possible to use machine learning to personalize the web. SaaS services had already started becoming popular and people were receptive to third-party solutions. Second was validating the market. Quite often, either the market is not ready for the product or does not need it at all. We actually talked to 3-4 major e-commerce players in India and asked them if they would be interested in such a service if offered it to them. All of them came back to us with a positive response confirming that they were more than eager to try it out. The third and most important thing is to check if you are ready for the start-up. It is a tough journey, with statistics telling you more startups fail than succeed. There is no right age, time or method to know this but the day you feel ready to quit your comfortable job for your passion is the day you are ready.
3. How did you all meet and form TargetingMantra team?
Rahul and I know each other for over 7 years now, as we are family friends. We used to discuss a lot of ideas earlier but it was only with TargetingMantra and the idea behind it that convinced us to take the leap of faith and quit our jobs to pursue our venture. Our other early team members are all passionate individuals whom we met at different start-up events or online on similar forums and who shared their interest in our idea.
4. How easy or difficult is it to start a business in India?
To start a business in India is definitely no cakewalk. However it has improved a lot over the last five years. Legal, taxation and other process are not streamlined. For any manufacturing unit or a hospitality sector outlet depending on the type, dozens of licenses are required from different agencies. On the other hand, building software companies is slightly easier in India. Talent is cheaper and living expenses are lower compared to US. It is easier to validate product market fit in India market and then grow internationally after that. Receiving funding and credit is still difficult at early stages for entrepreneurs, as people and institutions are quite risk averse. Compared to US, it is also difficult to find early adopters amongst potential customers.
5. What all market industries and regions does your product target?
Being a ‘Software as a Service’ (SaaS) product we can actually target any region including North America, Africa, Europe or Asia Pacific. We have started offering it in India as it was the home market but within the next 6 months we plan to integrate with international companies as well.
Regarding industries, personalization is required by all websites including e-commerce, media, job portals, dating etc. As content grows it will become increasingly important to curate it better for users. We have started with e-commerce but plan to extend our services to other industries soon.
6. What do you think of the future of online shopping industry in India where until few years ago people hesitated using their credit/debit cards online.
While the number of customers purchasing online is still a small fraction of the Indian population and it will take 3-4 years to reach a level that is comparable to the developed world, a few drivers will help it take there. Mobile commerce is the main driver and is growing so rapidly that many e-commerce players believe in a year or so, they will be selling more from mobile than other devices. With smart phones becoming as cheap as $100 it has suddenly opened doors for e-commerce firms which were struggling to reach the masses. Now they are actually trying to get the ‘fortune at the bottom of the pyramid’. Cash on delivery is another enabler which has tremendously increased the penetration to masses who do not necessarily believe in paying through cards online. Low credit/ debit card usage is no more the major hurdle for the sector. However I must add that offline and un-organized retail are also not going to go away in the near future as it happened in other countries. So in the future, as share of online shopping increases so will the size of the total retail pie keeping the all channels alive and kicking.
7. According to you where does online shopping industry in India stand compared to that in the developed world?
It is one of the fastest growing industries globally right now. Almost all products are available online now right from apparel, jewellery, health products to midnight meals and car accessories. The model is evolving more on the lines of China with more focus on the market place model unlike the US where each brand has its own online presence. The logistics infrastructure is continuously improving with few companies now offering same day delivery in select cities. Companies are trying to learn the global best practices.
However with heavy discounting and high customer acquisition costs hardly any company is making money. This is bleeding the sector overall and multiple sites are shutting down every month. However, opportunity lies in abundance in the Indian market and the time to take the plunge is now.
Find more about TargetingMantra. Also follow them for latest developments on your favourite social media network.
How To Make Your Small Business Global
So, your small business is doing well, you’ve conquered your market and everything is running along smoothly. So what’s next? Do you cruise along just enjoying your success? Or do you push yourself and your business to see how far you can take it? That’s right, keep going and see where you can take it. Thanks to this increasingly connected world you can grow your small business and make it global, but how?
Do your homework
DOn’t do anything without doing proper research first. Find out what the market is like in other countries, if there is a need or demand for your product. Are there competitors there? What are they doing and how are they doing it differently to you? Look at everything from the cost efficiency, to the legal regulations and know everything there is to know.
Know the culture
You need to be aware of other cultures and how they may perceive your business and your content. You also need to know how to do business in other countries and what cultural practices are. For example, is shaking hands okay, or is there another way of greeting people? Is it okay to hand out business cards? Find out all of these small details because they could make or break your opportunity to do business in a particular country.
Make friends with local experts
It’s a good idea to get to know as many local experts as you can and get as much advice from them as possible. You should also listen to what they say and not think you know better. Accept their help and let them tell you about best practices and how things like social media work in that country
Learn the language
Don’t let language barriers slow down your success. Put in the effort and learn the language for the country you wish to do business in. Not only does it make things easier for you but it shows that you respect the country and want to be a part of it.
Visit each country
If you’re thinking of going into more than one country or you’re undecided where to start, then you should visit each country. Even though everything can be done online now, it doesn’t mean it has to be and you can make better decisions when you’re in the country. It might be easier when it comes to how to choose China freight forwarder online but if you’re choosing material for your manufacturing process and a person who you’re going to be working closely with, then it’s better to be in the country. Once you know how things work and have established a few things, then it will be easier to do the rest online.
Although it can be a lot of hard work to take your company global, you can do it and many others have done it before you so take their advice. There are so many tools and strategies now available to help you expand your business globally, so make the most of them. Just remember to take it slowly, take it one country at a time, and don’t set your heart on world domination just yet.
Steps You Can Take to Make Your Business More Successful
There are so many steps you can take in order to help you have a strong business that you can work on making more successful. You need to think about doing what you can to hit the ground running as a business, and this is something that plays a big part in helping you develop the company. There are a lot of ideas you need to keep in mind when it comes to trying to make your company more successful.
Make sure you do as much as possible to improve the process of running a business, and this is something you need to make the most of right now. Try to think about what it takes to make the most of this right now and there are plenty of ideas that play a part in helping your company stand out.
Market More Successfully
Try to make sure you do as much as you can to market the company more successfully, and this is something that is going to have a massive impact on your success. You need to get the promotional part of the business right as much as you can, and this is something that you are going to need to figure out as much as possible. Work on taking things to the next level, and try to come up with ideas that will help you to achieve this right now.
Give People Something Different
Making sure you give people something a bit different is absolutely crucial when it comes to improving and enhancing the success of the company right now. Try to make sure you do as much as you can to improve this and make your business more competitive in the process. There are a lot of factors that play a part in this, and you need to think outside the box and figure out how you are able to improve the appeal of the company, and the services you offer.
Engaging more with the public is really essential, and there is a lot that can be done in order to achieve this. Social media is one of the best platforms you can use to improve the way you engage with your customers right now. There are so many ideas you have to keep in mind that can make this much easier and more effective. Using as many social media sites as possible is one of the best ways of being able to achieve better engagement, but you also need a great website and multiple ways of communicating with customers.
Hire Experts to Help You
Another thing that you need to consider when it comes to achieving this is to make sure you are focused on being able to bring in experts to help you. This is a massively important part of the process, and something you need to think about for the future right now. Try to make sure you focus on this for the future, and try to work on hiring experts like Australian Adam Blumenthal, who can play a key role in advising and helping your business decisions, and allowing the company to grow in the process.
Make sure you try to do as much as you can to make the most of this right now, and there are plenty of things that play a role in this. Make sure you look at some of the best ways of being able to take your company to the next level. Try to think about what it takes to improve the process and make sure you can make your business more of a success in the long run.
3 Easy Ways to Upgrade Your Company Culture
It’s no secret that the COVID-19 pandemic has impacted almost everyone’s lives in some way. That includes businesses across the world. Unfortunately, many of them have had to shutter completely. Others, however, are trying to figure out how to reopen and restructure safely and effectively.
If your company has been fortunate enough to remain standing through this pandemic, and you’re wondering what to do next, now is the perfect time to consider your overall workplace culture.
Whether you want to attract new employees or you realize it’s time for a change, upgrading your company culture can make a big difference in the success of your business as you move forward into a “new normal”.
With that in mind, let’s look at a few ways you can upgrade the culture of your company from within, in order to make positive changes that employees and customers/clients alike can appreciate.
1. Upgrade the Look of Your Business
It might not seem extremely important, but giving your company an external makeover can make a big difference in the environment you’re trying to create. First, start by decluttering your office space. Creating an environment that encourages working together in open spaces can make everyone feel more welcome and invited.
Next, let in more natural light. If you have large windows in your building, put them to good use instead of covering them. Invest in a Glass Polishing company to make them sparkle for you. Natural light can boost energy and productivity.
Even the colors you choose for your office can make a big difference. Color psychology is a real thing, so do your research on the best colors that will promote creativity and encourage productivity.
2. Arrange Weekly Meetings – With Everyone
We’re living in uncertain times. Just because employees are heading back to work doesn’t mean those uncertainties simply go away. It’s important to keep employees in the know as much as possible. So, why not just make it a rule within your company?
One of the best ways to do that is by holding weekly meetings with everyone. You can choose different ways to do that. You might benefit from having everyone in one room to talk about the state of your business and where you want to go. Or, you could branch off into different groups and meet with a different section of your business each day.
Whatever the case, make communication and transparency a priority in your workplace environment. It will help everyone to feel more comfortable, more equal, and more valued. It will also boost your employees’ spirits by giving them a voice and making them aware that their ideas and opinions truly matter within your business.
3. Encourage Positivity
Remember, no matter what the state of your business may be, you’re in charge. As a result, the things you say and do will set the tone for your company. So, it’s important to be as positive as possible, as often as possible.
Even if things aren’t going well, or you’re worried about the state of your company, keeping a positive attitude will carry over to your employees and help them to feel better about the work they are doing.
That doesn’t mean you need to hide things from them. If the business is struggling, it’s okay to talk about it. But, put a realistically positive spin on it. Most of the time, things can be fixed. You can recover. Use that mindset and attitude to motivate your employees and encourage fresh, new ideas. No one wants to work in an environment that is constantly negative or induces stress. You can change the entire culture of how people feel about coming to work by showcasing positivity every single day.
Not only can it help to boost the work your employees are able to produce, but it will improve everyone’s attitudes toward each other. Now, more than ever, kindness and patience are important. A positive environment can foster more of those things, and create a more welcoming workplace for everyone.
As you can see, it doesn’t have to be difficult to upgrade your company culture. Whether you want to make adjustments to some of your business practices or actually change the look and feel of your company, now is the time to pull the trigger on changing your workplace culture. Not only will your business benefit but your employees will feel more empowered than ever.
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